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LP

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Sorry LP, it's not a criticism towards you or anything. Getting the best times in the real world is not always easy. Plus, it sounds like your rental was fully laden with passengers and gear, unless you emptied it all out when you timed it.
I understand, don't know why I took that more harshly than I should have. No, unfortunately when I took both of the 0-60 times it was loaded with family + suitcases and basically everything we had so it was fully loaded.
 

rickhamilton620

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Excellent review LP! They're definetly going for a value play with the new durango in terms of feature content. :)
 
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Jens

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Renault M?gane Grandtour 1.5 dCi

Renault M?gane Grandtour 1.5 dCi

I've spent the last seven days with a Renault M?gane Grandtour 1.5 diesel. Together with 4 friends I went on a trip to the south of France and because we either have small or no cars we had to go and rent one. Our budget is limited, so no Audi Q7 or BMW 7 Series for us, the Renault was the best we could get.





First of all the exterior. I had already seen quite a few new M?ganes on the road and they looked interesting to me, so I was glad to try one out. You can't call it a pretty car, but I don't mind the styling. I even think it looks pretty good. The same can be said about the interior, ours wasn't the top of the line model (no alloys, cloth seats) although it was loaded with every gadget: two-zone climate control, satnav, cruise control, bluetooth, the lot. I liked the layout of the interior, practicality really is a big factor with this car. The boot swallowed all our luggage, and the rear was (just) roomy enough to sit three adults on a 1100km trip. It also had a lot of storage room inside for bottles of water and other stuff you bring on a long roadtrip. The only point of criticism is the use of some nasty plastics in some places like the door panels. The satnav is a TomTom unit without touchscreen. The controls are very iDrive-esque, they do the job but they are a bit cumbersome to use at times. Then again I didn't spend a lot of time with them since the satnav only had maps for the Benelux and not france. Another big plus for the Renault is that it comes with both a USB and AUX connection on the center console, which my passengers liked a lot. Also the cloth seats are very easy to keep clean and they look decent too.


The engine in this one was the 1.5 diesel with 110bhp, barely broken in with only 450km on the clock when we got it. I did most of the driving (almost all 2800kms of it) and the engine did struggle a lot while carrying 5 people and their luggage. On the motorways the gearbox made up for the lack of power, the car was happy to do 130-150 km/h in 6th gear while never exceeding 2500rpm. In the mountains however, it did struggle a lot. At times I had to shift back to first gear to make it, even when travelling with only 1 passenger it wasn't any fun to drive this car up those mountains. The handling itself was pretty decent and the roadmanners were refined, even with the small 195/55 r15 tires. But while driving I couldn't stop thinking it would've been a lot more fun on those roads with my Fiat for example. I'm quite sure the bigger 2.0 diesel would perform a lot better in these situations and the fact that the car hadn't been properly broken in is also something to take into account.

To sum up, I really did like this car and I can perfectly understand why people buy them. It's a good car, especially if you have a young family. The car is loaded with all sorts of safety equipment and the car is the most practical in it's segment. On top of that it's a looker (that's subjective ofcourse) and it is great for driving on the motorway. I had a good time with it, and from now on it will be a car that I can recommend.
 

Lastsoul

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I went to test drive the legendary Dacia Sandero with my flatmate, but sadly local Finnish Renault dealer didn't have registered Sandero, so we ended up driving similar Megane with 1.6. It was really short drive, but most of the things I noticed were pretty similar. Decent car, but the 1.6 petrol was also incredibly underpowered, and needed revving in every single acceleration. That also made it a bit loud, but otherwise the sound insulation, especially from the tires, was quite impressive for a car of its class in extremely rough Finnish tarmac.

Sadly we don't get the much praised Renaultsport model (which actually went around the N?rburgring quicker than 1M Coupe!), I'd really love to test drive that.
 

McRae

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Renaults have indeed become quite recommendable. You get loads of value for your money, great comfort, good looks and often reasonably fine performance.

The 1.5 diesel is a little pearl in my opinion. I've tried it in the Renault Grand Scenic, the Nissan Primastar, the Nissan Qashqai and the Juke. Of course it does have its limitations, but it's smooth, refined and economical.
A new 1.6 dCi has just been introduced, with 130 hp and delivering almost 52 miles to the gallon. Not surprisingly it should be even better than the 1.5, and perhaps it has that little extra punch, that you guys missed on the mountain roads.
 

NooDle

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Co-worker of mine has already tested the new 1.6 diesel in a Grand Scenic, and said it had more torque than his Merc C200....
So I guess Renault is making some good engines now....
 

Jens

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In all honesty the 1.5 dCi is a really good engine, but it wasn't built to haul 1800kg up hills with a 10% incline :)
New small diesels in general tend to be pretty good.
 

Necx0

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With car manufacturers, especially the Germans, madly identifying and then filling every niche they possibly can, we should be used to seeing familiar badges pop up on unfamiliar vehicles. After all, Porsche built an SUV, Audi a supercar and BMW built the 5 Series GT, whatever the hell that is meant to be. But really, a Volkswagen badge on a 'pick-up truck'?

Now, confession time: a couple of hundred kays around urban Melbourne does not a road test make, especially not in something primarily designed to be a tough-as-nails off-roader. But in one way, it's in this environment that the new VW Amarok has to succeed. There are plenty of other Japanese utes that do the worksite/off road thing perfectly well, and for less coin than the Amarok, tested here in $52,990 (plus on roads) Highline-spec. So to justify the extra spend, the latest workhorse from Wolfsburg has to deliver some premium German on-road refinement.

Does it succeed? Yes, mostly. The interior is recognisably Volkswagen, albeit of a lower grade - the dash plastics are hard, there are no steering wheel controls - but the driving position is highly adjustable, meaning you actually sit in the Amarok rather on on it. The six-speed gearbox is within easy reach, and helps keep the 120kW/400Nm 2.0-litre twin-turbo diesel on the boil.

Ah, the engine. Putting a Golf-size donk in the 2069kg Amarok (in Highline spec) should endow it with the acceleration of Ayers Rock, but it's a credit to the engine that it can still make meaningful progress. It won't win any traffic light Grand Prix, and it's quite noisy under load, but 400Nm spread from 1500-2500rpm helps the Amarok tick along at 80km/h in sixth. That said, hitch two tons on the back (towing capacity is 2800kg) and it could be a different story. The payoff, though, is brilliant fuel economy - sub-10l/100km being the norm rather than the exception. This is aided by the switchable four-wheel drive system, the Amarok essentially rear-wheel drive on sealed surfaces, with centre- or rear-diff locks available at the press of a button.

So it's powerful enough, very economical and the ride's ok (for a leaf-sprung unladen four-by-four). And the Highline includes 18-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, dual-zone climate control, six-speaker sound system and leather steering wheel and gearknob. So, the best of both worlds? Not quite. The sharp looks of the Amarok disguise the fact that it is enormous. At 5254mm long and 1944mm wide, Amarok-sized parking spaces are few and far between, especially without parking sensors. The brakes are also a concern. It may have been just this example, but anyone that has done a trackday in a regular production car will know the marshmallow brake pedal feel all too well. Not confidence inspiring in something designed to tow heavy loads.

But these are really only small blemishes, and the Amarok does what it says on the badge. Brings a welcome dash of sophistication and refinement to the tradie's transport.
 
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mitchell.scott

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I understand, don't know why I took that more harshly than I should have. No, unfortunately when I took both of the 0-60 times it was loaded with family + suitcases and basically everything we had so it was fully loaded.
The 3.6L really isn't that powerful of an engine for that vehicle anyway. It has plenty of horsepower, but the range of torques isn't ideal for a machine that heavy. 11 seconds to 60 doesn't seem too far off what a fully-loaded Durango could do.
 

Eye-Q

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Alright, I had a BMW E93 335i Cabrio (306 hp) for a day to get to a training course which was about 230 km away. I booked a 5-series/E-class but I wasn't too sad to have a 335i Cabrio... ;) Unfortunately I lost my digicam so no pics, but you should know a E9x from reviews in this thread and on the streets.

The interior is very nice, as you would expect, my rental had 11000 km on the odo. It was with leather upholstery and I think almost every optional extra you could think of. :) The center screen is perfectly readable, the dashboard also, even when you have the top down and the sun stands low behind you. It looks as if the MFD is a transflective LCD because when that happens the numbers which were brigther than the surrounding were darker then. Everything has a solid feel, there is no squeak or something, even on uneven roads.
Handling the OSD via the iDrive is fairly easy, that said I am a technophile so maybe it isn't that intuitive for technophobes, I don't know, but radio and satnav were quickly set up the way I wanted.
One thing which can be annoying is that when the satnav lady says something the music is getting faded out so if you hear a nice song loudly (for example when you drive open top) it gets abruptly faded out, the announcement is made and the music comes back very abruptly, too. You can always mute the satnav, though, so you just see the directions on the display. It can be switched to a split-screen mode, where the map is on the left side and the next turn/roundabout/whatever is on the right side.

The car had the 7-speed double clutch gearbox which is, I have to admit, very good and smooth, but I still prefer shifting myself with a real clutchpedal and a proper manual gearbox. As long as I can and there are cars which fit my demands I will always drive a manual. I can perfectly understand the praises for the double clutch gearboxes now, though.

On the drive there I went all the way on the Autobahn which is in some places derestricted so I could stretch the legs of the car, it went up to ~ 268 kph on the speedo (it is limited to 250) and was pretty stable. It's a very powerful car which is very quick far above the limit where the Autobahn is restricted so you have to be careful when you press the loud-pedal. ;)
On the way home I went country roads almost all the way to Hamburg (about 140 km) and it was very much fun. If I wanted to overtake the car really got up to speed quickly, even from 1800 rpm or something. Well, that's the difference between 170 and 306 hp I guess... ;)
The only grief about the engine is that it only sounds like a BMW straight 6 when you rev it above 3500 rpm, my E46 320i makes a better noise at lower revs in my opinion.
 

NooDle

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The last weekend I was entirely propelled by electricity.
No I have not taken drugs and I'm not into electric bicycles, this weekend I had a chance to test a brand new Mitsubishi i-Miev, one of few all electric cars.





Having read a lot about these cars, and seeing Top Gear (the Peugeot Ion is the same car as the Mitsu, just rebadged)has made me skeptical. Just 100 kms range, and you have to wait forever to charge it, and even then the car wasn't all that good. For the purpose of this test I decided to see for myself if it was all that bad.

I did a "real world" test for me, involving a 30 km commute, a couple of trips to the shops, a visit of a relative and a sunday afternoon drive with my son. All in all around 120 kms (including overnight charging at home, obviously), giving me plenty of time to test various things out.

There were 2 things I wanted to really test :

1) are electric cars a viable alternative for me, where I live, doing the kind of things I do...If you regularly take 50 km trips or longer or don't know in advance how long you'll have to drive, look elsewhere.
2) can I really live with a smaller car for my day to day needs. The i-Miev is deceptively tiny, despite its weird shape it only takes up half my garage. since the next car I'll buy will almost surely be roughly the same size, it'd be a good test.

Having already driven a hybrid, I was used to the utter utter silence, but was amazed that even when flooring it, there was no engine rumble. Weird, but fun. Acceleration was good all round, Top Gear say 0-60 in around 16 seconds but mine was much quicker, I counted 12 seconds, which is plenty quick.


Having all the torque available from 1 rpm until forever was fun too.
Topspeed was around 135 kph, just about enough for overtaking on the highway, but it's not a place where this car sits happy, due to its narrow tyres and high roofline it's too sensitive to wind. But that's just the design of the car, nothing to do with the electric motor.



First the interior. It has a weird sort of dial that all these cars have, extreme left is when you're charging using the regenerative brakes, the middle ("eco") is where you'll spend most of the time and to the far right it only goes when you're flooring it.



It does feel a bit flimsy and is filled with nasty hard plastics, but hey, this is a small car, and such things keep cost and more importantly weight down. I was a bit disappointed at how spartan it was, no radio (well an afermarket one that costs extra), no cruise control, no electric seats, no bluetooth, no satnav....felt a lot like the bog standard Citroen C1 I tested a few months ago, with the exception that this car was 6 times (!!!) the price (36k? vs 6k?)



The seats themselves were pretty good and all the plastics you use (buttons, steering wheel, gearknob) were quite good.





The gears themselves required me to read the manual to use correctly. I know what P, R, N and D are for, but what the crap is B or C?



After some reading I learned that B stood for brake, and C for comfort. Not to be confused with expensive fast cars that have adaptive suspension, this just sets the strenght of the regen braking. In D it was just noticable, in B it was a bit firmer like when you're going downhill and want use it for enginebraking. Technically there is no engine, but you know what I mean. C is the setting for when you're in the city, it uses less regen braking, making the whole ride less jerky.
To be fair, the difference between C, D and B was so little that I had it in B most of the time. You just coast a bit longer instead of braking, since it charges the battery. Pretty pointless to have the other two.


It has quite good cubbyholes and what I think is a cupholder. It is to the far left, but since the car is so narrow, you can reach it from the driver seat.



It is a genuine 4 seater, and it has a boot of sorts, but nothing to write home about. I must mention that both rear passengers have to be children, or people with no legs. But hey, they do fit.

They were even relaxed enough by the silence of it all that they both went to sleep quite easily. Another plus. Bonus points for my oldest one (on the left) for naming the i-Miev the "funny car" and thereby giving it its true name.

Exterior I thought looked pretty cool. It looks very futuristic and people turned their heads as it went by.
Thankfully though it did not have any "look at me I'm electric" stickers.



Tiny wheels and tyres mean low energy consumption, but still give a good ride



Driving it was fine really, it's just like a car, but near silent. Ride was good, unless you're slamming across big bumps at speed. Contrary to what you may think this is not a car that wants you to go all eco all the time, for my purposes, the range was adequate, and I was never in doubt of not making it home. With 13 virtual kms to go, I chickened out and went home, charged the car up and went to bed. Cheapest "tank of petrol" I've ever bought at just 3? for 100 kms.

The car comes with a powercord, and these lights, just like any battery charger, if the lights go out the car is full. For some reason it only took 5,5 hrs as opposed to the 8 the manual told me, and my range according to the computer was 88 kms, not 100.



And now we come to my real gripe with this car : the "range left" meter is just too inaccurate. Turning on the aircon loses you 10 kms, turning it off gains them back. Driving home from work (30 km trip, starting with 100 to go so I should have 70 left) gave me 91 to go.
A quick trip to the shops which was only 10 kms cost me 25 "virtual" kms... make up your mind dammit!
It also has the same thing many cellphone batteries have, it takes ages for them to lose the forst 50%, but the last half goes instantly. This means it overestimates its range when full, and underestimates it when almost empty. Not a huge problem, but since this is all you have (aside from a battery meter which just tells you how many bars you have), it's all you got to figure out how long you can go.

Aside from this the only real problem for me is the price. We don't get any nice government incentives (only companies do, in the for of a massive tax deductability of 120%), and are stuck with the 36k pricetag. That is just way too much for a small car, especially since it isn't at all equipped and drives like any other car (aside from the batteries of course)

To answer my own questions :

1) yes, this is a really viable alternative. I'd prefer this to a hybrid, it's not a half assed solution either.
You just need to live in the right area and have the right kind of driver profile. I was quite surprised at this

2) yes again, I can live with such a small car. There was never a time when I didn't have enough space to put stuff, and since I'm alone most of the time anyway, there's always space to spare. Nonetheless, even with wife + 2 kids + shopping the car was never loaded to the roofline with stuff.

In conclusion, if you live in a densely populated area where you don't have to do big trips, this is a real alternative. Since this is one of the very first all electric cars there are of course some problems (range is a bit short, computer predicted range is inaccurate, price is astronomical), but as these cars get more popular, the prices will drop and the faults will go away. I was really looking to destroy this car, saying it was super impractical, too small and too much of a comprimise, but it isn't. If you can spend the money and don't need the range, I'd say go for it.
 
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rickhamilton620

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Great review NooDle! I wish that Mitsubishi would consider selling the gas version here, alongside the electric one they've already planned on. They need a quirky fun car for the masses to actually realize they're still around.

I think the range estimate adjusts the way it does because every electrical load will reduce your range, hence why it changed with the AC being on/off. Electric seats are heavy, slow and suck power. SatNav does the same thing. I do think they could have integrated Bluetooth into the aftermarket radio option, but I could see why they made the decisions they made even if it lowers the "value for money" equation for the end user.
 

NooDle

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Great review NooDle! I wish that Mitsubishi would consider selling the gas version here, alongside the electric one they've already planned on. They need a quirky fun car for the masses to actually realize they're still around.

I think the range estimate adjusts the way it does because every electrical load will reduce your range, hence why it changed with the AC being on/off. Electric seats are heavy, slow and suck power. SatNav does the same thing. I do think they could have integrated Bluetooth into the aftermarket radio option, but I could see why they made the decisions they made even if it lowers the "value for money" equation for the end user.
I would also love the gas version, it seems fun and I was quite surprised how light and agile it feels, shedding a couple 100 kgs in batteries would make it more awesomer

I kinda get why the "predicted range" meter was so quirky, but still it's weird if one dial with bars reading 50% full (ie 50 kms since the range is 100 km), and the range meter tells you 30.

Got to work with 13 kms to spare, costing me 37 for a 29 km trip.... still weird though...
 

ahpadt

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To give some 'FinalGear balance' to the i-Miev review then I can report that I've just been driving an Audi A7 3.0 TFSI for a couple of hours and it was everything you expected it to be.

It was easily the most expensive car I've ever driven and quick as hell, for my standards anyway.

The V6 was super quiet when cruising and performed a quite throaty WRAAAAAAAAAAA when you nailed the thing in 2nd gear.

The ride was surprisingly good aswell, and this was the S-line big-assed-wheels model. Rode kinda like my mums golf which is a good thing since a lot of Audi's of late have had rock hard suspension.


*bribes dad, to make him order one* ;_;
 

McRae

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I see no reason not to pick the 3.0 TDI, unless you only drive something like 10k miles a year.
 

ahpadt

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I see no reason not to pick the 3.0 TDI, unless you only drive something like 10k miles a year.
Sound and speed? :> When I heard it getting fired up this morning it had a lovely and fruity V6 note.

Apparently it'll do 6.6l/100km if you are careful, which I'd say is pretty good for such a car.

Pics coming later!
 
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Lastsoul

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I'm not sure about Norway, but in Finland we have stupid yearly diesel tax. Because of that, you need to drive well over 20k kms per year in some cars to make diesel cheaper if you also calculate the price difference and depreciation over some years. It's less than 20k kms in most cars, but diesel is not automatically cheaper by default.

And that's okay, the tax makes petrol engine sensible alternative with proper sound and rev happiness, you just have to make the decision between torque and peak hp (if we compare turbo diesel and NA petrol). It's a bit like good automatic vs good manual. The other is much more sensible choice and the other is way more exciting :)
 

ahpadt

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With the A7 in Norway the entry model is actually the 2.8 V6. An equivalent TDI costs more than 100k NOK more. :blink:
 

McRae

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Sound and speed? :> When I heard it getting fired up this morning it had a lovely and fruity V6 note.

Apparently it'll do 6.6l/100km if you are careful, which I'd say is pretty good for such a car.

Pics coming later!
It's "only" a V6 turbo anyway, and the sound isn't that intoxicating IMO. The 0-100 times are 5,6 for the petrol and 6,3 for the diesel. But the diesel has more torque, so I don't think it feels slower. And the TDI is a bit cheaper as well, in Denmark at least.
 
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